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foxhole88

Negoitating for Membership Fees or Entrance Fees?

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If this is an equity membership the price (entry fee) is set by the member selling the membership and depending upon how bad they want to sell it can be negotiated. Usually there is a transfer fee to the club and that part of the price may or may not be negotiable. If this isn't an equity membership I don't know how it works. Most clubs will tell you how many memberships are available if you ask.

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I changed clubs last fall. All the clubs I looked at were willing to deal. It helped that there were 8 of us looking as a group. Several clubs offered us no fee's till April, cart fees waived, guest passes, reduced rates, reduced or no initiation fee's. There are many fine clubs in the area and most are looking for new members. If things were turned around they would have no problem charging more.

It sure wouldn't hurt to ask.

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There is a club near me that pro-rates the already-discounted initiation fee. The initiation fee is only charged if you leave the club but its reduced each month you are there, finally disappearing after two years.

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I am considering joining a Private Country Club. It has one of the nicer and demanding courses in the area and I would love to be a member there and play this course all the time.

I would also find out what that $6500/year really covers. Are carts covered? Do you have a minimum in the clubhouse? Range included?

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I talked to my wife's grandfather (who is a CC member) and wanted to echo and add to what others have said.

If your club offers equity membership, you might have a harder time getting your initiation fee waived. You're generally buying "shares" of "stock" in the club with that fee. There's all kinds of restrictions that may apply in this type of membership, so be sure you get ALL the details before you sign. It's not uncommon to have rules that state you can't sell your shares (e.g. quit) for a certain number of years, can't sell below a certain price, or can't sell without board approval.

You may be able to get the initiation fee waived or reduced (even if it's equity membership) by forfeiting your equity shares. Obviously this would mean no voting rights, but if you just want a nice place to play golf you might not mind. If this is a non-equity initiation fee, I'd absolutely try to get it waived or reduced. Just tell them the truth: that you are interested but would like to see if they can waive or reduce the initiation fee.

Lastly, as others have said, you'll have a hard time getting your recurring membership fees reduced. At most you may be able to negotiate a lower food and beverage minimum.

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Lastly, as others have said, you'll have a hard time getting your recurring membership fees reduced. At most you may be able to negotiate a lower food and beverage minimum.

Now I would agree on this statement.

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From what I've seen, initiation fees can be cut or waived.

Monthly dues are pretty well what they are. Dues cover rounds of golf, lockerroom fee, dining room minimum, etc. Might get a discount during Year 1, but then you pay full rate.

One thing to ask: does the club charge extra for riding carts, over and above the monthly dues?

As for longterm members being jealous of newbies who don't pay initiation fee... they do get a lower monthly rate by having more members. Fixed costs for clubs are high, so the monthly dues will hold the line the more members you have.

Also, in worst-case scenario, a club can owe millions of dollars they can't pay and go bankrupt. One club north of Dallas, Texas, had this problem in the 1990s. Its salvation was to go semi-private: have a standing membership, but allow outsiders to take open tee times to increase revenue. Also, seek out organizational golf tournaments and special events. The hardheads finally realized they could be semi-private, or have no club at all.

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Yes - This would be a non-equity membership (just a flat entrance fee of $4000) that they are charging. The yearly fee does not include cart fees ($20 for 18, $10 for 9). Club Storage is $150 a year and a locker is $300 a year. There is a $100/mo food and beverage and $40/mo capital assessment fees in addition to the $6500 a year.

So it sounds like people think the entrance fee may be negotiable. I never heard of the cart fees being waived or discounted for a specific person. I guess I can ask about that and the food min (although I think that would never be an issue for me) and the $40/mo cap assessment.

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It happens all the time though. There are membership drives, etc. Lots of clubs will waive or cut the initiation fee if they need to get members to join, etc.

That's what I did. I asked when they have periods that the initiation fee is waved. She told me that just had that happen "last month". I told her to let me know when it happens again. She said she would put my name on the list. She misplaced that list, but I kept calling her until she told me they were having a special to wave the initiation fee if i paid 3 months in advance. I paid up through 3 months and am a member now. That was fine with me anyway since I pay by the quarter rather than monthly. I don't like having to deal with writing a check every month for something like that where the fees remain the same.

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I consider pretty much anything negotiable. It comes down to asking yourself if it's worth it to go through with the negotiation. For a lot of things in life it isn't. This sounds worth it to me.

Funny you should post that. I have a friend that is in his mid 80s now, but he is a haggler from way back. This guy is so good at negotiating that he's never even paid the full price for a leather belt from a department store. Some old salesmen could sell you a bad of dog crap and make you think you needed it, or buy the last shirt from your back and make you proud you sold it to him.

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Forgot food minimums. Good to know before you sign. Also, I would sample a meal or at least look at the menu. The club I found with the second most attractive pricing had the highest food minimum (btw, $100 a month is a good minimum) at 3k and the menu was very limited with the food being very poor. I would say about 60% of the menu was designed to be defrosted and deep fried.

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Well I asked for a discount, something on par with one of the younger membership levels (31-35yr olds) and they said they could not do it. The only thing they said was that the new rates for 2011 will come out in November and maybe at that time they will be cheaper, or maybe they will be running a membership drive. So I guess I will wait until the new rates come out and see what happens. Kind of a bummer, I was really on the fence with this, even at the full rates. I know I could afford this for at least one season and the rest of this season but I want to be able to stay at this place for at least 3 years and hopefully more.

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You have a much better chance of getting initiation fees waived than monthly dues reduced. It comes down to simple business principles and golf courses are businesses - ownership wants to make money. So you have two components to revenue; the one time transactional revenue of an initiation fee and the recurring revenue of the monthly dues. The monthly dues require very little effort on the part of the club and remain consistent while the initiation fee depends on being able to sell that membership. So when it comes to initiation fees, there will be good months and bad months. With the exception of the very high initiation fee clubs, very little revenue is coming from the one-time transactional fee. Any company is going to be assessed on holdings and consistent revenue. It just makes sense for a golf course to drop the initiation fee to guarantee the recurring revenue.

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Sorry you didn't get the fee dropped but with every potential deal, you have to be ready to walk away for a better deal down the road. Good luck with your next attempt. Just don't give up on asking them to waive it.

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